The internet age has changed a great deal about the audience's relationship with movies. Time was, all but the most dedicated of film fans would know nothing of an upcoming release until its trailer popped up in the coming attractions, or sometimes not even until it opened.
Nowadays, this is almost never the case. Just about every new theatrically released movie will land in the wake of months of build-up preamble: multiple trailers, featurettes, behind the scenes photos and videos, viral sites, memes... the list goes on.
There's always particular scrutiny when the film is a new entry in a beloved series - and in especially if it's horror. Look no further than the upcoming Halloween sequel. Horror fans are always among the most attentive audiences, anxious to know what's next and who's doing what with their beloved franchises.
That having been said, horror fans also have a particular love for being caught unawares. As such, when a sequel arrives without anyone having had a clue it was coming, it's quite an achievement, and (sometimes, although not always) it can prove to be a very pleasant surprise.
This past weekend at Austin's SXSW Festival, one such surprise sequel enjoyed its premiere - and it's one among a select few horror follow-ups that the fans never knew were coming.
8. Unfriended: Dark Web
Horror hit-makers Blumhouse Films surprised the heck out of everybody at SXSW 2018 by screening brand spanking new sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, without the merest whiff of pre-release publicity.
On release in 2015, Unfriended wasn't exactly a massive hit. It had a relatively warm but subdued reaction from critics, and box office takings of only $64 million worldwide.
However, given the film followed Blumhouse's ethic of keeping the budget low (reportedly costing only $1 million to make), it represented a very handsome return on investment.
Factor in how easily the format (internet-bound supernatural force targeting teens via a Skype chat) lends itself to a franchise, it's small wonder that a follow-up would happen. Even so, there'd been no solid news on such a film happening until its festival premiere.
Not unlike the original, the first responses to Unfriended: Dark Web are for the most part positive, whilst falling short of gushing praise. It seems we can expect the same essential premise as before, but this time taken in a darker, nastier direction.